AME AME ZION African Methodist Episcopal

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					                             AME & AME ZION (African Methodist Episcopal)

Organ and tissue donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity by these denominations. They
encourage all members to support donation as a way of helping others.


The Amish will consent to transplantation if they believe it is for the well-being of the transplant recipient. John
Hostetler, world renowned authority on Amish religion and Professor of Anthropology at Temple University in
Philadelphia, says in his book, Amish Society, "The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is
God who heals. However, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern
medical services, including surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions or

                                             ASSEMBLY OF GOD

The Church has no official policy regarding organ and tissue donation, but the decision to donate is left up to
the individual. Donation is highly supported by the denomination.


Donation is supported as an act of charity and the church leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.


The Church of the Brethren’s Annual Conference in 1993 developed a resolution on organ and tissue donation
supporting and encouraging donation. They wrote that, "We have the opportunity to help others out of love for
Christ, through the donation of organs and tissues."


Buddhists believe that organ/tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of
compassion. Reverend Gyomay Masao, President and Founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, says, "We
honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving
lives." The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed. Many families will not give
permission to donate unless they know their loved one wanted to be a donor.


Catholics view organ/tissue donation as an act of charity and love. Transplants are morally and ethically
acceptable to the Vatican. According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the
Archdiocese of Chicago, "We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from
tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others."more info...

                                 CHRISTIAN CHURCH (Disciples of Christ)

The Christian Church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that individuals were created for God’s
glory and for sharing God’s love. A 1985 resolution, adopted by the general assembly, encourages ". . .
members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those
who have received an organ transplant."
                                             CHRISTIAN SCIENCE

The Church of Christ Scientist does not have a specific position regarding organ and tissue donation. According
to the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual means of healing
instead of medical. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire --
including a transplant. The question of organ/tissue donation is an individual decision.


The Episcopal Church passed a resolution in 1982 that recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ, blood, and
tissue donation. All Christians are encouraged to become organ, blood, and tissue donors "as part of their
ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we may have life in its fullness."

                                              GREEK ORTHODOX

According to Reverend Dr. Milton Efthimiou, Director of the Department of Church and Society for the Greek
Orthodox Church of North and South America, "the Greek Orthodox Church is not opposed to organ donation
as long as the organs and tissue in question are used to better human life, i.e., for transplantation or for research
that will lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of disease."


Gypsies are a people of different ethnic groups without a formalized religion. They share common folk beliefs
and tend to be opposed to organ and tissue donation. Their opposition is connected with their beliefs about the
afterlife. Traditional belief contends that for one year after death, the soul retraces its steps. Thus, the body must
remain intact because the soul maintains its physical shape.


According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from
donating their organs. This act is an individual’s decision. H.L. Trivedi, in Transplantation Proceedings, stated
that, "Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other
humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive,
cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans."


Generally, Evangelicals have no opposition to organ and tissue donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves
the decision to donate up to the individual.


The religion of Islam strongly believes in the principle of saving human lives. According to A. Sachedina in his
Transplantation Proceedings’ article, "Islamic Views on Organ Transplantation," ". . . the majority of the
Muslim scholars belonging to various schools of Islamic law have invoked the principle of priority of saving
human life and have permitted the organ transplant as a necessity to procure that noble end."

                                           JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES

According to their National Headquarters, the Watch Tower Society, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe donation is a
matter of individual decision. Jehovah’s Witnesses are often assumed to be opposed to donation because of their
belief against blood transfusion. However, this merely means that all blood must be removed from the organs
and tissues before being transplanted. In addition, it would not be acceptable for an organ donor to receive
blood as part of the organ recovery process.


All four branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist) support and encourage
donation. According to Orthodox Rabbi Moses Tendler, Chairman of the Biology Department of Yeshiva
University in New York City and chairman of the Bioethics Commission of the Rabbinical Council of America,
"If one is in the position to donate an organ to save another’s life, it’s obligatory to do so, even if the donor
never knows who the beneficiary will be. The basic principle of Jewish ethics - ‘the infinite worth of the human
being’ - also includes donation of corneas, since eyesight restoration is considered a life-saving operation." In
1991, the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox) approved organ donations as permissible, even required,
from brain-dead patients. Both the Reform and Conservative movements also have policy statements strongly
supporting donation.


In 1984, the Lutheran Church in America (Missouri-Synod) passed a resolution stating that donation contributes
to the well-being of humanity and can be "an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need." They call on
"members to consider donating organs and to make any necessary family and legal arrangements, including the
use of a signed donor card."


Mennonites have no formal position on donation, but are not opposed to it. They believe the decision to donate
is up to the individual and/or their family.

                          MORMON (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes that the decision to donate is an individual one made
in conjunction with family, medical personnel, and prayer. They do not oppose donation.


The Moravian Church does not have an official policy addressing organ/tissue donation or transplantation.
Robert E. Sawyer, President, Provincial Elders Conference, Moravian Church of America, Southern Province,
states, "There is nothing in our doctrine or policy that would prevent a Moravian pastor from assisting a family
in making a decision to donate or not to donate an organ." It is, therefore, a matter of individual choice.


Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.


Presbyterians encourage and support donation. They respect a person’s right to make decisions regarding their
own body. During their General Assembly in 1995, they wrote a strong support of donation and commented that
they "encourage its members and friends to sign and carry Universal Donor Cards. . ."

                                        SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST
Donation and transplantation are strongly encouraged by Seventh-Day Adventists. They have many transplant
hospitals, including Loma Linda in California. Loma Linda specializes in pediatric heart transplantation.


In Shinto, the dead body is considered to be impure and dangerous, and thus quite powerful. "In folk belief
context, injuring a dead body is a serious crime. . .", according to E. Namihira in his article, "Shinto Concept
Concerning the Dead Human Body." "To this day it is difficult to obtain consent from bereaved families for
organ donation or dissection for medical education or pathological anatomy. . . the Japanese regard them all in
the sense of injuring a dead body." Families are often concerned that they not injure the itai - the relationship
between the dead person and the bereaved people.

                                      SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (Quaker)

Organ and tissue donation is believed to be an individual decision. The Society of Friends does not have an
official position on donation.

                                        UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST

Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and respect the interdependent
web of all existence. They affirm the value of organ and tissue donation, but leave the decision to each

                                       UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

Reverend Jay Litner, Director, Washington Office of the United Church of Christ Office for Church in Society,
states that "United Church of Christ people, churches and agencies are extremely and overwhelmingly
supportive of organ sharing. The General Synod has never spoken to this issue because, in general, the Synod
speaks on more controversial issues, and there is no controversy about organ sharing, just as there is no
controversy about blood donation in the denomination. While the General Synod has never spoken about blood
donation, blood donation rooms have been set up at several General Synods. Similarly, any organized effort to
get the General Synod delegates or individual churches to sign organ donation cards would meet with generally
positive responses."

                                            UNITED METHODIST

The United Methodist Church issued a policy statement in 1984 regarding organ and tissue donation. In it, they
state that "The United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and
thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donors by signing and carrying cards or driver’s
licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death, to those in need, as part of their ministry
to others in the name of Christ, who gave his life that we might have life in its fullness." A 1992 resolution
states, "donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards against hastening death and
determination of death by reliable criteria." The resolution further states that, "Pastoral-care persons should be
willing to explore these options as a normal part of conversation with patients and their families."

                                            WESLEYAN CHURCH

    The Wesleyan Church supports donation as a way of helping others. They believe that God’s "ability to
    resurrect us is not dependent on whether or not all our parts were connected at death." They also support
  research and in 1989 noted in a task force on public morals and social concerns that "one of the ways that a
     Christian can do good is to request that their body be donated to a medical school for use in teaching."
                             Catholic teaching on organ donation

By Rev. Larry Hostetter

In the April edition of the WKC the ethical implications of organ donation were raised. Given the
importance of this matter, I would like to offer several clarifications from the perspective of Catholic moral

1. Organ and tissue donation is heroic and praiseworthy. As an act of charity, organ and tissue
donation have repeatedly received magisterial support and encouragement. Indeed, Pope John Paul II in
the encyclical Evangelium Vitae lists organ donation among "heroic acts," stating that, "A particularly
praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable
manner." (86) Equally clear in its affirmation of the goodness of organ donation are the Ethical and
Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, published by the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops. Directive #63 states: "Catholic health care institutions should encourage and provide the means
whereby those who wish to do so may arrange for the donation of their organs and bodily tissue, for
ethically legitimate purposes, so that they may be used for donation and research after death." The
teaching is thus clear: organ donation is morally permissible.

2. The donor must be dead before organs and tissue can be harvested. Equally clear in the
church’s teaching is the insistence that respect for the life of a potential donor is maintained. In directive
#64 of Ethical and Religious Directives we read: "Such organs should not be removed until it has been
medically determined that the patient has died. In order to prevent any conflict of interest, the physician
who determines death should not be a member of the transplant team." Clearly we should be concerned
that organ donors will not have their lives interrupted prematurely. That the pope is also concerned with
this question is seen in an address he gave to the Pontifical Academy of Science in 1989. In this address
Pope John Paul states that given the difficulty of determining the moment of death there is a danger of
prematurely taking someone’s life in an effort to gain a transplant organ. He called upon the academy,
which is composed of eminent scientists from various disciplines, to examine this question.

This question attained a new urgency with the advent of technology that could keep a person’s heart and
lungs functioning artificially. Traditionally death had been defined as the irreversible cessation of the heart
and respiration. Now, new technology demands a more precise definition. While the traditional definition is
sufficient in most cases, how does one determine death in the case of an individual on a ventilator? From
this question arose the definition of "brain death" as the determination that death has truly occurred,
making it possible to remove any organs for transplantation. As seen, however, in a recent letter to the
WKC, the definition of brain death is not without controversy. Some question whether brain death is a
valid determination of the death of a human being. After all, someone may be brain dead but continue
activity associated with living, such as heartbeat and breathing.

3. The determination of death is left to medical experts. The reason the Pope consulted scientists on
this matter is that it would be beyond his own expertise to scientifically answer the question, What is
death? The Church, therefore, does not make any specific statement regarding the legitimacy of medically
determined criteria for establishing brain death. This respect for the competency of science and medicine
to answer questions in their own fields is a hallmark of Catholic medical ethics. This is seen as early as
1957 when Pius XII in "The Prolongation of Life" stated that the determination of death in such situations
"does not fall within the competence of the Church." He stated that it is the physician who offers the final
determination of death. (See, The Pope Speaks, 4: no. 4, 1958, 396-398.)

For this same reason, the present pope placed the question before the scientists of the Pontifical Academy
of Science. What then were the conclusions of the Academy? The Academy stated that death occurs when
"there has been an irreversible cessation of all brain functions, even if cardiac and respiratory functions
which would have ceased have been maintained artificially." (See, Furton, Edward, "Reflections on the
Status of Brain Death," Ethics and Medics, Oct. 1999, Vol. 24, No. 10, 3-4.) Hence, when the whole brain
is dead, the person is considered dead, despite the fact that "residual cellular activity" may continue,
either in the brain or other parts of the body. (Ashley, Benedict, Kevin O’Rourke, Health Care Ethics.’ A
Theological Analysis, 4th edition, 1997, 403.)

The question remains, however, of the criteria for determining that brain death has occurred. This too is a
medical question that should be decided by experts in the field. In Kentucky the definition of death is the
same as that of the Academy, the "total and irreversible cessation of all brain function, including the brain
stem." This must be verified by two physicians. (Kentucky statutes 446-400.) Various tests are conducted
to make a determination that the brain no longer has the capacity "to integrate and coordinate the
physical and mental functions of the body." (Furton, "Reflections," 4.) Again, the Church does not
determine what those tests should be; that is left to the experts in the field of medicine.

Given these considerations, Catholics who desire to be organ donors upon their deaths should have no
fear in performing such a charitable and heroic act. Edward Furton, the editor of the National Catholic
Bioethics Center publication Ethics and Medics, offers the following conclusion: "Although no definitive
judgment has been rendered, one may safely conclude that Catholic physicians may, in good conscience,
employ brain death criteria in their determination of death. Similarly, Catholic patients may agree to give
or accept organ transplants on the basis of these same criteria. If the Vatican should ever express
reservations to the use of these criteria, it will likely be preceded by a widespread rejection of brain death
by members of the medical community. There are voices calling for a rejection of these criteria today, but
they would appear to be in the minority. (Furton, "Reflections," 4.)

Rev. Larry Hostetter, STD, is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Brescia University, Owensboro, KY